Pune is one of the main Information Technology (IT) hubs in India, attracting people from across the length and breadth of the country. This reputation has led to increased demand for housing and has seen the city expand greatly, with new residential projects often coming up at great distances from the city center. Unfortunately, the supporting infrastructure tends to lag behind these new developments, leading to plenty of hardships for home buyers willing to invest in such projects. Another, often overlooked, sub-class of affected people were the original land owners, most of whom were farmers, who sold their land at throwaway prices to developers and ended up squandering the little money they made from this sale. This is where the township of Magarpatta City in Hadapsar in eastern Pune stands out as a beacon.
Today, if one is asked about Magarpatta City, one would point to its famous IT Park (hosting many renowned clients), Seasons Mall, its beautiful green environment and the number of amenities provided to the thousands of people residing here. What many people may not know is that this area was farmland till as late as the year 2000 and instead of the well-planned township one sees today, it may well have resembled any other area in Pune’s urban sprawl. In this article, we see the remarkable story that led to this township coming up and see what it has to offer.
Magarpatta City – The Origin
In the year 1982, the area where Magarpatta now stands, was made a future urbanizable zone under the Pune Draft Development Plan, even though there was only farmland at that point of time. With the city’s expansion during the 1980s and 90s, many surrounding areas became urbanized and it seemed a matter of time before this area went the same way. Mr. Satish Magar, who was the largest landowner in this area, saw the changing times and decided it was time for change. He convinced 120 farmer families with land holdings next to his, to pool in their land and build a township themselves, instead of selling it to developers for a pittance. You can read more from his interview on Rediff.
Mr. Magar established the Magarpatta Township Development and Construction Company, with all landowners as shareholders in proportion to the size of their land holdings. They were also promised 30% of the returns from the sale of properties. At the same time, Mr. Magar visited various global conferences and gained knowledge about the best practices followed elsewhere in such projects. The Company applied for permission from the Maharashtra State Government in 1993 and got it in 2000, following which they began building, with members of the landowners’ families themselves taking care of planning and construction activities.
The success of this model, now known as the Magarpatta Model, has caught attention of many across the country and has sought to be emulated elsewhere. In fact, Magarpatta themselves have built another larger township, called as Nanded City, near Khadakwasala, with a 51%-49% shareholding between Magarpatta and the landowners.
Location & Connectivity
Magarpatta City is located on the Kharadi-Hadapsar road, connecting to the Pune-Nagar road at Kharadi and the Pune-Solapur highway at Hadapsar. It is just opposite another major township, Amanora Park Town. The Kharadi-Hadapsar road, however, has borne a brunt of the development of Amanora and Magarpatta as well as Kharadi, with its relatively narrow carriage width leading to long traffic jams during peak hours.
An alternate way to reach Magarpatta is via the West Gate, through which a separate route leads to Fatima Nagar. However, this route is quite narrow, not too well-paved and passes through a couple of slums, where traffic jams are again a common occurrence.
Most residents of Magarpatta are from the IT community, which works within the Cybercity IT Park in Magarpatta itself or the nearby hubs of Kalyani Nagar, Viman Nagar and Kharadi, all within an 8 km radius. Other residents include those working in the nearby industrial hubs of Hadapsar and Wagholi. The original landowners and their families too reside in the township they have built.
Magarpatta City is around 10 km from both the Pune Railway Station and Pune Airport. Medical care centers such as Nobel Hospital and Sahyadri Hospital (<1 km), Inamdar Multispecialty Hospital (4 km) and Ruby Hall Clinic Wanowrie (7 km) are easily.
Magarpatta City spans an area of 430 acres. It has three entrance gates: the Main Gate, West Gate and South Gate. The township is organized in a concentric layout. At the center of the township, lies Aditi Gardens, a 25 acre green lung, which serves as a popular hangout spot and walking plaza for residents and IT company employees alike. A road spans the gardens, with the IT park, Cybercity, on the other side of this road.
This IT Park is divided by four roads, which convey people from this central road towards the residential enclaves and the gates of the township. The traffic flow is thus well-planned, allowing for less traffic congestion and smooth dispersal of vehicles. However, considering a number of BPO companies also operate from here, traffic flow tends to be relatively heavy even during night, leading to noise pollution and safety concerns for residents.
There are bus stops along the central road to drop and pick up employees of the firms. Magarpatta has recently introduced its own bus service, CityZip, to convey IT personnel from across the city. A number of beautiful roundabouts along the outer intersections in the township further add to the green cover.
Cybercity Magarpatta – Eastern Pune’s IT capital
Cybercity in Magarpatta is among the largest IT hubs in Pune, possibly second only to Hinjewadi in western Pune. It consists of 12 towers, built in 4 sets of 3 towers each and is spread over an area of ~85 acres. These towers, with their glistening frames, are eye-catching and form part of Magarpatta SEZ (Special Economic Zone), along with a couple of other commercial complexes such as Pentagon.
Many IT and BPO majors were attracted to Magarpatta, owing to the low rental rates of commercial property as well as the infrastructure already in place, with regards to high speed broadband connectivity across the IT Park and the vast space, allowing companies to host a large number of employees. Other firms, based in Hinjewadi, also opened centers in Magarpatta, for the convenience of their employees based in the eastern part of the city. Cybercity also acted as a magnet for residential demand in Magarpatta City, with the ‘walk to work’ concept it promoted.
Some of the major IT firms operating from Magarpatta City include Amdocs, Avaya, Cognizant, SAP and Accenture. Among the BPO firms based here are industry majors such as EXL, WNS and Mphasis, all of whom occupy massive office spaces, some in excess of 1 lakh sq. ft. Basement parking is provided for employees of these firms, with ample visitors parking (which is paid, not free) along specially earmarked areas outside. Security is taken very seriously here, with access to buildings only granted with smart cards and multiple checks in the commercial district.
The residential enclaves – Self-sustaining and full of benefits
The biggest feature of Magarpatta City is that it is a self-sustaining township. The township is governed by the aforementioned Magarpatta Township Development and Construction Company, which takes decisions concerning the complex. Residents too have a voice through the Magarpatta City Council, whose elected representatives raise issues concerning their well-being.
The broadband infrastructure, inner city transportation, landscaping etc. are all taken care of by subsidiary companies run by the original landowners, who have now become successful entrepreneurs in their own right. Magarpatta City also handles disposal of all garbage generated within the township and has sewage treatment plants in addition. The treated sewage water is reused to water the gardens in the township, while the biodegradable waste is used as compost. By using other eco-friendly methods such as rainwater harvesting and solar water heating, the complex has gained plenty of recognition both locally and globally. In fact, residents get a 10% rebate on property tax from the Pune Municipal Corporation, in recognition of the township’s efforts. Another attraction for residents is the frequent movie and advertisement shootings that take place in the township, which are another revenue earner for the Company.
The residential areas of Magarpatta City are a mixture of gated apartment complexes and standalone villas and row houses. The villas and row houses are in clusters, named as Acacia Gardens, Erica and Mulberry Gardens and are along the outer edges of the township. Acacia Gardens have 3, 4 and 5 BHK villas. Erica and Mulberry Gardens have 3 and 4 BHK row houses.
The gated apartment complexes lie between the Cybercity and the villas and offer a variety of housing options, targeting many segments of residents, from bachelors to small and large families and even suitable for company guest houses.
All apartment complexes have been designed with a central open space within the complex on the podium level, which lies above 2 levels of parking. This was planned by the Township, as a means to allow greater social interaction among residents and hence, help building a community feeling among them. All complexes have tight security, similar to the Cybercity.
The apartment configurations available in Magarpatta span a large range. Zinnia, for instance, has 1 BHK apartments with an area of 550-580 sq. ft. Cosmos comprises of 2 BHK (area: 1000 sq. ft.) and 3 BHK (area: 1480 sq. ft.) apartments and attracts the middle spectrum. On the higher end are complexes such as Laburnum Park, which contains 3 BHK apartments of area between ~1700 – ~2150 sq. ft. and 4 BHK apartments of area between ~2000 – ~2400 sq. ft. Prices too span a wide range, from ~Rs. 27 lakh for a 1 BHK apartment in Daffodils to ~Rs. 1.8 crore for a 4 BHK apartment in Laburnum Park.
For renting a 1 BHK apartment at Magarpatta City, one needs to shell out ~Rs. 14 K to 17.5 K per month. The rental range for a 2 BHK apartment is ~Rs. 18 K to 25 K, while for a 3 BHK apartment, it lies between ~Rs. 26 K to 52 K.
As mentioned earlier, Magarpatta is a self-sustaining township and this goes beyond its roads, infrastructure and garbage handling. There are provisions for nearly every need of the residents. Magarpatta boasts of two schools within the township: Vidya Pratishthan’s Magarpatta City Public School and the Vibgyor High School, both affiliated to ICSE board. Apart from this, there are a number of play schools such as Serra International, ensuring the educational needs of residents’ children are met near home.
Magarpatta City has a large playground and Laxmi Lawns, which have played host to a number of functions as well as major events such as the NH7 Weekender music festival. An impressive badminton arena is currently being built, right next to Seasons Mall. For plant lovers, there is also a nursery next to Aditi Gardens in the heart of the township.
Destination Center is the main shopping area for residents. This complex boasts of a number of establishments including grocery shops, stationery shops, clinics, medical shops, fast food joints and a few restaurants. Another famous restaurant is Deccan Harvest, located within Aditi Gardens and popular with the IT personnel.
The crème de la crème of Magarpatta City’s many attractions, however, is Seasons Mall. Approachable both from the main road as well as from within the township, Seasons Mall has emerged as one of the prime hangout destinations from people from not just Magarpatta, but from across Pune and with good reason. Seasons Mall is an excellent destination for a family outing, boasting of many big brands under one roof. It has a Hypermarket (Star Bazaar), a large food court and a number of restaurants offering global cuisine.
Seasons Mall also has Cinepolis, a 15 screen multiplex (including 3 VIP screens), said to be among the largest in India. For sports lovers, there is an astro-turf for football and a go-kart track is currently under construction. For kids, there is also Downtown Essel World, which has games such as Snow Town and Box Cricket.
Magarpatta City stands as a testament to the vision and courage of its founders, who resisted pressures and delays and created a township and a model worth emulating. The success of the township lies in the vast and diverse clientele it has attracted, both in terms of companies and establishments that have set up here as well as its cosmopolitan resident profile. One can say that it probably represents the best execution of the walk to work concept anywhere in India.
The township is not resting on its laurels, but is focused on further developments to provide a better quality of life to residents and professionals alike. Its self-sustaining and eco-friendly model represents a microcosm of cities in the not so far future, which will need to be self-dependent and cannot rely on the largesse of authorities at various levels, due to various constraints.